A Saturday of Solo Skiing

Hello, my beautiful Beartooth Mountains

The weekend shone before me bright and unsullied with plans. I knew I wanted to go skiing, but I also knew I couldn’t find anyone to go with me due to everyone’s schedules (I tried). Did I really want to trek the hour and a half drive up to Red Lodge to hang out by myself in below freezing temperatures? I hadn’t made up my mind by Friday morning, knowing it’d be cold, knowing I might totally regret it and hate going by myself. Yet…

I was wearing so much gear this could be a picture of some random stranger on the mountain and you wouldn’t know the difference between them and me. Just take my word for it.

Yet Billings had gotten so much snow it certainly had to be great up in Red Lodge (Red lodge actually hadn’t got all the snow, though it was still good)

And the Palisades lift was open (not guaranteed to happen every year), which gave access to my favorite ski runs.

And dang it, I was craving a bit of adventure and just to go out and to do something random and impulsive and fun sounded dang great.

So with only 5 hours of sleep I pulled myself out of bed at 5:40 (I woke up earlier than that and just kept drifting in and out of dreams of everything going wrong as I gathered my stuff up to go skiing. Such a great start :P). I grabbed my gear, shoved it in my car, and was still kinda surprised when I closed my front door behind me and realized I was really going to head up to the ski mountain by myself. I almost thought my trip was over before it had started, when my car took long, agonizing seconds for the engine to decide to start in the -10 degree weather (All weather reports said that Red Lodge would not be THAT cold. I’m not that crazy).

I got to the top of the ski hill way too early, but enjoyed just watching the skyline light up as the sun got higher in the sky over the mountains as I waited for the ski rental place to open.  It wasn’t too terribly much longer than that before I found myself skiing.  My skills are always so rusty after a year of not being up on the mountain. But thankfully I got them back pretty fast. I’m still not good at pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone, but I am good at working on actually being good within my comfort zone, which is a start.

One of the things I really love about skiing is the people. It was an interesting experience going skiing solo because I was suddenly riding chair lifts with random strangers with nothing to do but to talk for 10 minutes and then disembark and never see each other again. Mostly we talked just about how beautiful it was to be up in Red Lodge that day, the crazy cold weather in Billings, skiing, really general life stuff… Nothing serious, nothing deep. But it was an interesting way to get to know some strangers.

Ultimately I called it a somewhat early day. My lack of sleep had me worn down more than anything. And there was a promise of a really good cup of coffee and an afternoon hanging with Dad, which was sounding better and better as the time went on.

I really enjoyed my solo skiing. It did get a little lonely; not having someone to talk to during lunch or recount stories with on the drive back wasn’t optimal. I don’t know that I would do it often, or even again this year. But on a perfect skiing weekend when no one else is free, when I need an adventure, when I haven’t gone skiing in a while… I think I’ll probably do it again.


The Year was 2017…

I have tried several times to pen some thoughts on the year 2017. I always try to do some reflection at the beginning of the new year, to look back and see the ways I’ve grown, to see what I still want to work on, and just generally ponder how I’ve changed. I like to recall the adventures and the highs, the little things that meant so much, the big things that changed me though I didn’t even realize it at the time.

2017 poses difficulties with that that I’ve not had before. My worst times are wrapped up in 2017. My darkest nights, my deepest struggles, my strongest guilt. And while I’ve got a lot to learn from those times, while I’m still sorting out the changes that losing Mom has wrought in me and my life, I don’t particularly want to sit here and dwell on them. And I feel like I already have done so, quite extensively, as I worked through the pain.

Though I suppose one thing to say is that I did grown through it all. My goal for 2017 was to be more open about my feelings and struggles, to hide them less not only from the world but to try and dredge them up from the depths of myself where I am scarily good at shoving them down and ignoring them; to be more real with myself and with others. I’m far from perfect at that still. But I’m better. And hopefully I’ll continue to get so.

2017 is also a weird year because there are still so many good things that happened. I can look back and smile at some of the memories. I have some dang good memories at the later end of this year. Like some of the best memories. And I know life is always a mix of good and bad, but never have I had a year which holds such extremes. It’s weird to see. Weird to feel. 2017 could never be considered a great year, not even a good year. I’ve lost too much for that.  It was a terrible year, a horrific year. And yet held such good.

It holds the joy of seeing one of my dearest friends married. It holds the realization of how supportive and amazing my friends are, and how I’m truly blessed to have them. It holds a year of really growing closer to Dad and getting to a stage where we can sit and talk about deep, personal issues for hours like we’ve never been able to do before. It holds meeting Alex and our relationship developing into what it is now, to caring deeply for him and finding such joy in being his girlfriend.

Maybe what I’m trying to say, the conclusion I’m trying to reach in my own head, is that while I’ve always known it a truth, I’ve learned a lot about how life is not easy. It can be hard. So, sooo hard. But it can still be beautiful and good. And I’ve grown a lot through that, and I continue to do so.

I don’t know what 2018 holds. It will surely have it’s faults, but I doubt that it’s as rough as 2017. And I haven’t thought of a particular goal for this year like I have in past years. Maybe I just hope that I continue to grow and learn in the lessons I have started to understand this year. Maybe I work at just continue adapting to life without Mom and the person I have to become with that.  Maybe I continue trying to be more open and honest with myself and others.

I like the ways I have grown this year. I think I’m on a good track. I can only hope that I can look back and say the same thing a year from now.

A Relationship?! Me? (Spoiler: Yes)

I have a boyfriend. Gosh, that’s a weird thing to say. Almost but not quite as weird as the idea that I am someone’s girlfriend (Lisa pointed that one out). It’s just so different! And unexpected! And crazy and wonderful and EMOTIONAL (In the best of ways).

So here’s the story.

Sometime in the Past:

There is a thing my church does called the Fall Ball. It is put on by the marvelous Karen and is a wonderful night of dressing up and English Country Dancing. Such fun. I’ve been doing it for quite a few years now (Like, lost count number of years). A few weeks before this event, I am at her house for lunch and she tells me she might have a young man for me to meet. He’s her son’s brother-in-law, and is coming up from Texas to attend the Ball. I politely say that’s nice, and mentally did’t hold much stock in it. Set ups have not historically been very effective in my life. A random stranger up for a few days was not someone I envisioned sweeping me off my feet. Perhaps I forgot the fact that the Karen and family actually know me and might know the type of person I could get on with well. Perhaps I’d just become a bit cynical after finding not a single man who could hold my interest after a few times of talking to him.

Friday; the 3rd of November

Friday before the dance was dance practice for the trainers (which I have been privileged to be a part of for a few years now). He was there, (Alex is his name, I should probably stop playing the pronoun game and just introduce him) and we were introduced, but we didn’t have any time to talk what with actually trying to remember the dances. I don’t think we even really got to dance together much. But afterwords Karen walks up to me, and we have this exchange:

Her: “What are you up to tonight?”

Me: “Oh, from the sounds of it Christian and I and a few others are going out country swing dancing.”

Her: “That sounds fun! You know, I’m boring, and my husband is boring, and Kayla [her daughter, and mentioned in many former posts] is studying, and I have this young man visiting with nothing to do. Would you take him with you?”

Oh, oh I see how this is going. Now I was expecting an introduction, I was not expecting heavy match making. But why not? A large group was going dancing so it wouldn’t even be that awkward no matter what he turned out to be like, right?

Alex actually ended up not driving over with us, but the party all met at the bar. And we started talking. And I quickly realized that this guy and I actually had a lot in common. He knows literature, and is a deep thinker who has formed opinions on things and likes discussing them. And before I even knew what happened we were those two people sitting on the side lost in our own conversation while everyone else did their own thing.

And there was dancing too, obviously. I danced with Christian some, because we always have a lot of fun doing that. Alex didn’t really know how to country swing dance, but between the few women in our group we were able to show him the basics and he picked them up really quick. Not that Alex doesn’t know how to dance. He knows a bunch of different styles. He told me he knew how to Two-Step. During one of our conversations (because even with the dance breaks we came back to the two of us just shouting over the bar noise) I asked him to teach me.

At this point I imagine Christian’s head twitching over to watch us. He told me he heard, and that’s the moment he realized I was interested in this guy. I certainly don’t ask other men to dance if it’s not Christian or a close friend I know won’t take it weird. Alex didn’t know me well enough to pick up on such clues, but from then on it wasn’t exactly a secret between friends and family.

We eventually did call it a night, and thus ended day one of knowing Alex.

Saturday; the 4th of November

Early the next morning was when the dance trainers taught the dances to the ball attendees. So there’s this dance called The Grand March. It’s basically a giant promenade that’s follow-the-leader. And it’s also the only dance you might actually have time to talk to someone. Not a crazy big deal, but really nice if you get it with someone you want to really talk to. So it’s pleasant when you get who you’re dancing with sorted out the morning of instead of that night. Christian told me Alex was going to reserve it with me. Dang, Christian is always right about such things. Alex did. I would come to find out Alex actually turned down an offer by some other girl prior to asking me on the gamble I’d say yes to him. So adorable.

A group of us grabbed lunch after that. Alex was one of the first people there, and Lisa got there after that so she ended up sitting next to him. No problem, I could sit on the other side of her and still be a part of this conversation. Lisa leaned over to me at this point with a note typed up on her phone, asking if we needed to find an excuse to get up so we could accidentally switch seats (Oh yes, by now friends were in on this whole deal). I laughed at her and told her that would be way too obvious and crazy. Though we realized we should wash our hands before eating at that point, as we had danced with who knows how many people. So we come back to the table and she ACTUALLY FREAKING DOES IT. I’m left to awkwardly squeeze past her and sit between them.  Oh gosh, it was a bit awkward. But I did get to talk to him, so her scheming ways payed off. (He ended up sending her a message a few days later thanking her for being such a good wing man.)

So anyway, the night of the dance is upon us. I’m dressed in a black dress with a white ruffle running down the side; hair down and curled. I quickly find my group of peeps and we work at reserving some dances with each other. Alex asks if I’d like to do the final Posties Jig with him (which happens to be the BEST DANCE EVER), and makes some comment about how that probably fills his limit of two dances with a girl (A general guideline at the ball to keep people mixing and dancing with a bunch of people) I quickly correct him and tell him no one counts The Grand March, and he can therefore ask me for another if he likes. He does, but somehow fails to take that as an obvious sign I’m interested in him. Sest la vie. We have a delightful time during the Grand March.  It’s a great people watching dance, and we had fun talking and commenting on all the people we saw.

During the intermission, when recorded music is played and some people rest and some dance whatever they so choose in the center of the floor, Alex came over and asked if I would like to learn how to waltz (and inadvertently interrupted me talking about him with Liza and Elizabeth). I of course said yes. He’s a fantastic waltzer, even if he was dealing with someone who didn’t know the steps. We were interrupted in the middle of our dance by Lewis and Britta purposefully waltzing into us and disrupting our footsteps. We proceeded to get into a discussion with this couple over who was the better waltzer (I think that’s how it went? It’s all a bit fuzzy now), and before I knew it Alex was dancing with Lewis and Britta and I laughed from the sidelines. It was a wonderfully hysterical moment.

The exact details of most of the night are a blur of fun times. I don’t remember many particular details (Though I do remember Hannah and I sitting on the floor near the end of the night and her giving me advice on potential long distance relationships. I wasn’t sure it was going to lead to that by any means as of yet, but everyone else had a bit more insight, apparently). There was an after party where a group of us just hung out and talked, but I think we were so tired by then that Alex and I didn’t get in much conversation. That was okay, we had plenty of time tomorrow.

Sunday; the 5th of November

We went to church, and thankfully he sat with Kayla’s family so I had the excuse of running up to give her a hug after church to be close enough to start a conversation with him. We talked generalities for a few minutes, at which point I realized I had to get going soon because I had to go to work for part of the day. He asks if he can talk to me for a second, and then says something along the beautiful lines of “I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know you these past few days, and it would be remiss of me not to ask you for your number.” REMISS! Oh gosh, that vocabulary though. Instantly melted my heart. I did not at all hang on those words for most of the day (lies, I did). He tells me now he lost words after that and cut the conversation short. I didn’t notice. We exchanged phone numbers.

We saw each other that afternoon, since Elizabeth and her hubby were looking at a house and wanted a few people’s opinion on it. It was a delightful house, but did not offer any space for a conversation. Kayla, however, is a schemer (the real moral of this story is all my friends are schemers and in no way subtle). She realized something must be done to get Alex and I to spend some quality time together. She suggests a movie night at her house, to which I drag Liza because I had actually had plans to chill with Liza at my own place, and she was awesome and allowed my interest in this young gent to rearrange all that.

So I get to Kayla’s house at about 6 O’Clock, and we all just hang out in the kitchen and talk. And then before I know it Kayla and Liza have disappeared, and it’s just Alex and I. We got to talk for a solid two hours, I bet, with some minimal interruption from peeps walking into the kitchen who weren’t in on the fact Alex and I were being left alone on purpose. He said that if we had time after the movie he’d like to take me to coffee. I said I’d like that. He was trying to be polite and not interrupt movie plans by just leaving the others, not realizing any movie plans were just a facade for my friend’s match making. We ended up not having time for coffee, and do finally watch the movie. We all snuggled  down on the couch, and he fell asleep leaning on me. He never woke up to say goodbye. I was sad, but shrugged it off since my feelings hadn’t quite sunk in yet anyway and I had no idea where he was with his either.

That’s technically the last time I have seen Alex. Dang it, that’s so hard to believe.

Liza and I walked out to our cars and we talked a bit about how the night went. Kayla watched with jealousy from the kitchen window, wanting to be in on the conversation, but it was cold outside and only lasted a minute anyway.

Monday; the 6th of November

I texted Alex that morning, wishing him safe travels home. We texted a bit throughout the day. That evening Kayla and Liza came over to join Kathy and I for some girl talk. I was at this point at a full on crush. I was emotional and happy and excited and utterly beyond knowing what to do with any of that. I snuggled down against my girls on a pile of blankets on the floor and hid my face in my hoodie from sheer shyness at feeling all of that at once and tried to just not go crazy from it all. It was wonderful. Kayla filled me in on Alex’s side of things, since they talked some, enough for me to get a clear picture that this young man might really like me too.

Alex sent me a text, saying he’d like to read a book with me. We talked about potential topics and ended up deciding to read a book called Learning to Love the Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey.  He said he’ll send me a copy. I politely mentioned that I can buy one off Amazon and he really didn’t have to go to all that trouble. He insisted.

Throughout the Following Month

Here was a month that sped by. I was busy with life and no doubt he was too, but we managed to talk at least a little every day (And sometimes a lot). Texts turned to phone calls, and eventually to video chats (I had suggested video chatting during our first study of the Psalms, as a way to be able to manage flipping from various books at one time, and because I really wanted to see him). I almost regretted that suggestion because I spent most of the first time doing so trying to hide the fact I was smiling like an idiot from sheer happiness.

I quickly found out a lot about this young man. I found out that he was very considerate (he wanted very much not to distract me with texting when I was spending time with family; he wanted me to prioritize the people I was with. I distinctly remember him that first week mentioning that his self imposed rules were very hard to follow because he wanted to talk to me. Awww) I found in him a very deep thinker, but someone who still had an amazing sense of humor and could make me laugh hysterically. I found a man solidly grounded in his faith in Christ, who loved his family, who was loyal and caring and… well, everything. Everything I can say I ever wanted in a man.

He informed me at some point that Kayla’s family had invited him out for Christmas to go to their cabin, so he planed on being in Montana for that. My invitation to join in on the cabin adventures came a little while later (My friends scheming again). We now had a time when we knew we would see each other again.

He asked me out on a FaceTime date, but wouldn’t tell me the details.

Friday; the 1st of December

Date night. My goodness, I was nervous. I don’t know why, I had video chatted and talked with him before. But this was different. This was a DATE.

I got home from work and there was a box on my front step from him, with a giant warning not to open it until instructed to do so. So I set it on my bed and enjoyed the sheer mystery of everything while getting ready. I let my hair down and figured out what to wear and just tried to kill time before 6:30 when he was going to call me.

6:30 comes, and he tells me I can open the mystery box. Inside is a bottle of Pomegranate Italian Soda, some candles (each individually packaged in little boxes decorated with owls), and some matches, and another thing which I shall get to in a sec. I lit the candles, and at about that time there is a knock on my door. At the door was Kayla, dressed in a charming waitress uniform, with food from Ciao Mambo’s (Only the best Italian restaurant in Billings). There’s garlic bread and some amazing linguine with a white mushroom sauce on it (I presume alfredo?) and bacon. Also tiramisu, one of my absolute favorite desserts.

At this point my internet decides it doesn’t want to work, and I spend 5 minutes troubleshooting that. It would decide to die right then.

I did eventually get my technical difficulties under control, and Alex and I talked while we ate, and just had so much fun enjoying each other’s company. At this point he gets to the last item in the package, a burlap sack full of Legos. He tells me that he has stolen the instructions and any identifying marks from the Lego set, and if I am willing he’ll walk me through building whatever the heck it actually is. Let me tell you, this activity was much more difficult that I thought it’d be, but also amazingly fun. We got it figured out, and it ended up being the skyline of Venice.

All in all we talked for 5 hours that night, and if it hadn’t been way super late we’d have probably talked for more.

Sunday; the 3rd of December

We have at this point succumbed to outright flirting. That evening Alex asks if he can call me. He “accidentally” FaceTimed me instead. He admitted not ten minutes later it was no accident. He wanted to talk face to face. And he said that the two of us together is something he wanted to pursue, except he said something adorably quaint like “going steady” because he’s from Texas. I told him it would be weird for me to be in a relationship with a man who’s never even met my Dad, and Alex was amazing enough to offer to give Dad a call. I warned Dad it was coming, and they talked on Monday. Dad wasn’t going to grill him, he just wanted a conversation to see who in the world had so easily found his way into my affections. I knew he wouldn’t have any problem with things becoming official

Alex called me that night. And we started our relationship. And just like that I’m dating an amazing guy who seems so beyond anything I’ve ever thought realistically possible. It’s hard to imagine. It just all happened so so fast and yet never felt rushed or wrong.

Here’s to waiting for Christmas when I actually get to see my boyfriend (It’s taken me several days to write this post… I am still not over the fact I have an amazing boyfriend. I’m like a giddy schoolgirl over here).


Happy Birthday, Mom

img_2798-1My Facebook memories to look back on today brought a smile to my face. Dang, was I very blessed to have her for as long as I was allowed. It was especially touching as today would have been her birthday (Is her birthday now in past tense or still current? Tenses are hard sometimes).

Crazy how time seems to have stretched forever since I last saw her yet also no time has gone by at all. I wondered if her birthday would be super emotional for me; it hasn’t been, particularly.  I’ve kept myself busy, I think, to keep a lot of the deeper emotions at bay. But it’s certainly been more on my mind. My calendar still had it marked as an event and I’ve watched as I’ve slowly crossed the days off getting closer to it.

I don’t know what I want to say with this post, I just thought I should say something, you know? I guess what I need to say is that I still miss you Mom. We’re doing Okay and we’re holding together tightly as a family. You’d be proud to see us, I think. Proud to see how we all have surrounded ourselves with the love and support we need, how we’re there for each other, how we’re all more open and vulnerable together, how we haven’t become lost in our grief and sorrow but forged the paths we’ve needed to to stay strong and stay moving forward. I think we’re all a little afraid of the holidays without you but I know we will get through it somehow, one day at a time. I think our memories of you have slid away from those last painful months to when you were much more you, and I’m glad of that. Dad and I reminisced the other day late into the night. I thought it was sweet and beautiful partly because that’s what you and I used to do, once upon a time. He told me all about your first few dates, about the important moments in your life together. It was so amazing to really sit and talk of you, and as you were before cancer tarnished our life.

I still haven’t visited your grave. I think I tell myself it wouldn’t do much for me, I know you aren’t there and you’re in a much better place. But I think a part of me just doesn’t want to face it. Someday though. When I have time to really sit and talk to you. I’m afraid I’ll bawl my eyes out, in the middle of a public place where people might actually see me cry! I guess I’m really just afraid it might tear open this tender wound inside of me without really putting salve on it to heal. It might really hit me in the gut over and over that you’re not coming back. I shouldn’t worry about that, I feel that way anyway, sometimes. But you know me, it’s hard to put myself in that position.

There’s so much I wish you were here to talk about with me. I have a winter coat which I think is the coolest and you’d really like. I always meant to tell you how you convinced Elizabeth to always check the back seat of her vehicle to make sure no one was hiding in it before she got in, and how even Lisa started doing it because we talked about it so much. I always forgot when I saw you. It bugs me I never said it. Like that thing you are always trying to remember to do but forget, but I can never do it now to get it out of my system. There was the cutest cat video I saw the other day that I wanted to share with you…

…I’m talking to a young man. He’s just the most amazingly, nicest person I have ever met. I wish I could talk to you about him, wish you could meet him. I think you’d like him. But even if it doesn’t go anywhere and I don’t speak to him ever again it reminds me you will never meet whatever young man comes into my life, and that breaks me just a little bit.

I was so, soo blessed to have you as my mother. And not just because you understood my Steampunk obsession and would thrift shop with me, but because you were there for every little part of my life. It’s hard not having you for every little part now.

Love and miss you soo, soo much. Happy Birthday.

Your Tori Belle


Small Gestures

So tonight I grabbed coffee with Dad. He had some time to kill and I was thankful to talk life stuff with him for a little while. He dropped me off at my apartment afterward, and I hopped out after declaring my thanks and love and whatnot.

He hopped out too, just to give me a hug goodbye. I don’t know why it surprised me. Maybe because I usually see him at least once a week and it’s not like I won’t see him within a few days. It was just a kind, impromptu gesture that really warmed my soul. It made me feel special, and loved, and it meant a lot to me even though it wasn’t anything really that significant.

Or maybe it was. Maybe it was a symbol of good talks and appreciation and a thousand big things. Who knows. Maybe that’s why small gestures mean a lot in the first place.

Either way, here’s to great little acts of love that make my world feel right. ♥


Germany – A Year Later

Disclaimer: Dear family of mine. I know some of you read my blog. I hope you know I don’t care (am even flattered) and you are welcome to read whatever you stumble across here. That being said, this post which was meant to be happy memories kinda turned into me venting some emotions, and please don’t feel obligated to read it if it is going to bring you more pain than you desire. Or do, I trust you. Love you – Tori.

Hard to think Germany was over a year ago now. Such fond memories. It was fun, and adventurous and exciting. More than that it was a time of hope and positivity. Hard to think a year ago I hiked up a steep hillside and Mom kept up the pace. Hard to think of our late night talks in the dorm-like bedroom when Mom calmly talked me through all my worries about being jobless and what I could do.  I knew nothing was guaranteed but I never would have guessed it all would have crumbled as fast as it did after those blissful two weeks. It was essentially the last time she was healthy. The last time she was herself. She was so wonderful.

I didn’t mean for this post to spiral emotionally like it already has. I guess I should have known it would. I’m not going to apologize though. I just cried for the first time in a couple of months. I’ve wanted to cry so badly during that time and it just hasn’t come, like a pressure behind my eyes that wasn’t released. I don’t know why writing lets me cry. I’m so weird.

There is a question, which I think people have wondered but been too polite to ask, which my whole family has no doubt asked themselves. Was going to Germany worth it? It obviously didn’t save her. Maybe it didn’t even prolong her life.

Yes, yes it was worth it even still.

While I was in Germany, I, and many besides myself, felt God had put us there. He had moved all the pieces, from the suggestion to the planning. He had supplied in so many ways, and we were loved and supported both financially and emotionally by so many people and it just felt so right. It felt like maybe we had found an answer. Now I never studied and still don’t know the medical side of what happened there very well, so that’s not me saying that medically the treatments should have worked. Just me saying I thought maybe it was all going to be okay.

Course, I’ve realized just how full of denial I was over the course of her death, so that’s not saying much.

Regardless, for many reasons I think it was still the right choice. For one, we simply had to try. You can try and fail and you can never try and never know, and be eaten up by the not knowing. It was a good option, because we aren’t plagued by the “What if?” (that one, at least). Secondly, it gave us all hope. We were all fighting, and fighting together. We, though most importantly Mom, could have despaired in those extra 6 months we were planning and were in Germany for. But we didn’t. We were fighting. And those memories I have of Mom. Of stopping to take a million pictures of fat, lazy bumblebees, of running around the Knights Templar Museum when the boys had tired out already, even though we couldn’t read a single sign to tell us what everything was. Of having to talk her down from running past obvious “Don’t Cross This Point” signs because she wanted to see into the top of the tower…

Oh damn it all! I can never have those types of adventures again. Those talks. And I hate it, and it hurts like hell and I can never get it back and I can’t even clearly remember the details I wish I knew by heart.

She had been sick for so long and hadn’t been herself so much in the last four years, that those memories I cherish so so much. I’m so glad to have a bright, clung to spot that I can point to and say “Look what we did together! Look at these memories!” The memories I’ll share with my children someday when they ask about her and the memories I cling to when I try to remember who she was when she wasn’t being defined by cancer.

She never wanted to be defined by cancer.

I wish in my memories she wasn’t. Maybe with time.

And I know a lot of that probably doesn’t seem as important to people who poured their hard earned money into letting my Mom seek treatment in Germany. And it’s certainly not the only reason I’m thankful, as I’ve said.

I know Mom isn’t the only one who was at the clinic who’s passed on. But I know of at least one who’s remained healthy and strong. And I am so thankful for her. I wish it could also have been Mom as well. The point was it did help some people, and it was so worth it try because there was a chance it could have, and I thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who helped us. So maybe it didn’t heal her, but I think God still led us there. I think He still used it, in numerous ways that I haven’t mentioned or probably even fully know.

Well, this post was intended to just share some previously unshared photos that I loved. Guess I’ll finally get to that. These are photos I actually pulled off of Mom’s phone when she died. I wanted to save them for myself, and to have them in a place where I could always look back on them.

This first set is from the Bad Mergentheim museum on Teutonic Knights (the one we walked through the courtyard of every day to get coffee. A beautiful castle. One of my fondest memories of the trip was wandering around it with Mom, on a time crunch no less, so kinda rushing, but fascinated by all the things and the dragons on the ceiling and the beautiful history we couldn’t even read about.

Some food photos, because we all know I spent a lot of time in Germany eating.

Our boys. Now my boys. Still our boys.

Thoroughly enjoying classic Germany fare

Some random snapshots

Lastly, I wasn’t even there for these photos, these are after we went home and Dad came back.

So there’s those, finally. And there’s life, in all it’s shattered beauty.


Is Summer Over Already? (An Overview of Previously Undocumented Adventures)

Hello, Autumn. I love Fall. Love love love Fall. It is by far my favorite season. The season of hot cups of tea and cozy sweaters and spices and sweet calm contemplation. It’s crazy to look back on the time that’s passed and everything that’s happened these last few months. I am surprised to say it’s actually been a pretty good Summer. I’ve been up to a lot of random mini adventures throughout, and due to time or whatnot haven’t yet charted them here. As a fair-thee-well to the season I thought I’d share the photos and the fun that I’ve had.​


Tailgating while figuring out what the plan for the evening was. We went dancing.

One of the biggest changes this season being of course that I’ve found a new home and a new roommate. Kathy has proven to be super awesome to live with (As I knew she would). We’ve had such fun. Our first week we had no furniture and sat crossed legged on the floor, using her Christmas tree box as a table. I have a screenshot of a Snapchat with her, Lisa, and myself having a pizza party after a day of unpacking. It’s a special little look into our first week that I really love.

Not long after we moved in, I ended up house sitting  for a good friend for two weeks. (I have a habit of disappearing on new roommates. When I moved in with Elizabeth I immediately got a second part time job and was NEVER home for the next six months). I was thinking two weeks by myself in the house would be quite lonely, but it ended up being quite fun. I had permission to have friends over and to use the hot tub and whatnot. The first weekend I was there Kathy came out and we decided to make sugar cookies, and finding ourselves out of dairy to make icing we substituted Baileys Irish Cream and Rumchata. Best. Icing. Ever. Highly recommend you try it in the future.

Another night she came over and we watched Pitch Perfect, because she found out I hadn’t seen it. Or we tried to. Half way through the movie two GIANT hobo spiders simultaneously flanked us. Kathy is a braver soul than I and trapped them under two whisky glasses. But it’s quite hard to watch a movie while spiders are trying their hardest to get out and eat you. We didn’t want to take care of them right away because if they escaped that’s worse, right? After the movie she carefully trapped them and disposed of them, while I cowered on top of an ottoman. It was quite hysterical, in retrospect. Favorite quote of the night was certainly her saying “I need to see it but I also need it to not eat my face.”

We had been quite tired, but spiders will wake you up quite fast. We wanted to stay up late and watch the meteor shower that was supposed to happen anyway, though, and at 2 we went and laid out on the front walkway and tried to spy some meteors. We saw 2 in an hour. Not sure I couldn’t find two on a regular night. But it was delightfully fun.

There were other nights of friends coming over. Elizabeth and Jenna and Kayla and Lisa… other fun nights were I just got to relax and hang out with some of my favorite people on the planet.

Montana Fair happens every August. I always go with my siblings, enjoy a warm night of delicious bad-for-you food and running into people I don’t often see. Highlight of the night is Christian and I found Chuck Wagon Soda, which was dishing out amazing Ice Cream Floats. We got ours with Sarsaparilla soda, and they were amazing. The soda was all old fashioned style and delicious. And the let us sample every last kind (and by sample, I mean like half a mug). Such a fun family to get to talk to and I will be searching for them again next year.

Another Summer adventure with the Broskovich is that we decided to check out Burn the Point street dance in front of Montana Brewing Company. This entailed watching the end of the car show parade, which had everything from classics to modern sports cars. The concert was okay, the music was good but no one was actually doing much dancing, so we went to Daisy Dukes, a bar that happens to have one of the few actual dance floors in town. I’m happy to say Christian and I are becoming fairly decent Country Swing dancers. Someday I’ll get a video of it for future’s sake. A night out dancing is always a good night.

THERE IS A NEW ESCAPE ROOM IN BILLINGS!!! And I am obviously quite excited. And of course it had to be checked out. Happy to say Billings Escape Room is epic, and a must do adventure for anyone finding themselves in Billings. We did the Prison Break room, and they did a great job at developing the ambiance of the room. There are flickering lights and you can’t see very well and… I don’t want to spoil it for any would-be adventurers, but go check it out! I found it harder than the other escape rooms I’ve done, and was glad to have an experienced team by my side. We escaped! (But we also used like 6 hints… but shhh, no one needs to know). I can’t wait to go back.


Of course THE WEDDING happened this Summer. I’ve already detailed that. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right words to say for my speech, and was happy for some coffee to get me through. Moav downtown is a… hipster in a good way? Yeah, hipster in a good way coffee shop that serves amazing coffee. I love the modern industrial decor, particularly. It gave me a great spot to try and focus on the speech.

There were also some great food discoveries this Summer. For our last family get together I made brownies. I was thinking I would grab ice cream for them, but stumbled across raw cookie dough to eat. And the idea came to me… oh sweet idea! Frost the brownies with the cookie dough! I added a little milk to the dough to make it spreadable, and they were super rich but super super fantastic. It needs to become a thing. I also tried Pina Coladas for the first time this Summer at a girls night in. I don’t know how I’ve missed it up until this point. I generally am not a huge fan of pineapple, but mmm coconut. And Captain Morgan Loconut rum! All together it is a blissful cocktail. Also, I have been working on trying to replicate the German Doner Kababs. I haven’t made it happen yet, but it’s a delicious pursuit.

I’ve got to spend a lot of time with family and friends. I’m so happy for everyone who’s been there, for all the adventures. For the little moments that have gotten me through what could have been a terrible Summer. Thank you.

One last camera roll share. I’ve kinda been into documenting things recently. I want to be able to remember, when life changes and people move on, the little things that bring me so much joy. The moments that make me who I am, that build relationships, that you maybe don’t remember specifically after a while even though they impact you. Here’s a short little video of the best Dad ever, as we sip morning coffee, and the familiar sounds of him strumming his guitar. He’s a great guitarist, was motivated enough to teach himself, and the sounds of the melodies and the skritch of his fingers moving up the guitar strings always brings me such joy, as they have throughout all my life. Love you, Dad.


Wedding Joys

One of my bestest friends in the world got married this weekend! Wow, what a ride. I remember back when I first moved in with my dear Elizabeth, it was but a few months later she developed a crush on a cute redheaded chap and our talks started to figure him prominently. Nearly three years later and I was privileged to sign their marriage certificate.

It was a crazy weekend, in the best of ways. I had Friday off in case anything was needed of me, though I really was just able to use it to run some important errands, grab Thai food for lunch with Dad, grab a textbook from the college for Christian, drop off paperwork to the insurance company, and whatever else I realized needed to be done. But 4:30 saw me at the church helping to decorate the sanctuary for the wedding, and then we had the rehearsal.

It should be noted that Elizabeth chose some of my closest friends for her bridal party, and even the bridesmaids I didn’t know as well were so sweet and so fun that we all got along so well and had so much fun over the whole weekend.

The rehearsal dinner was wonderfully done. We all congregated on Elizabeth’s future in-law’s deck, ate fantastic BBQ (Blues, for those of you in the Billings area who know how good that is) and there was an open mic for toasts. The things that were said were so sweet and humorous and so perfect for the occasion. I didn’t have to say anything at that time (Because my Maid of Honor speech was being saved for the wedding the next day. Eek! The nerves) and I instantly knew I would be unable to beat what was already being said. Elizabeth and Clark are so blessed with the friends and family they have around them.

I was called into the living room to help teach the Bride and her father how to dance. They had not had much chance to practice, and were wanting some help before their big moment in the spotlight the next day. I and the very talented Hannah showed them some basic spins and a dip, and they picked it up very easily. It doesn’t perhaps sound very exciting, but it was a very special moment for me. Father/Daughter dances always tug at my heart strings, though.

Some people were courageous enough to go dancing that night, but I had a headache (emotion induced. Bleh. I need to find some coping mechanisms for that). A good night’s sleep helped me get rid of most of that, and it’s really a God thing that the headache didn’t come back with all the emotions and everything happening on the wedding day.

This mirror, oh this mirror. It’s at least twice as tall as I am, and I want it so, so badly.

Camelot Ranch was the venue where the reception was going to be held. There is an amazing loft for the bridal party to get ready in, with a line of mirrors and hairdressers chairs to get ready at, and a fridge and a shower if you happen to need one of those I guess. And an amazing, amazing, mirror. I’d call it floor length, but it’s much taller than a typical ceiling. Such fun for modeling in front of. A balcony looks out upon the reception room. A beautiful location for a beautiful day.

Kayla had volunteered to do my makeup and hair, and being much more talented than I (And more than the average woman as well. Dang that girl can do anything with a makeup brush and a curling iron) I had the fun of being dolled up as if it was my own special day. We all had fun hanging out getting ready, munching on White Cheddar Cheez-its, grapes, cheese, and nuts. We had beautiful Malibu blue dresses (from David’s Bridal, for those who want to use the color as a reference there) which are so elegant and fun, yet also excitingly practical. It’s nice to have a dress I feel like I can actually wear again. We all looked so beautiful. Elizabeth has great taste in dresses and colors.

Pictures were done before the ceremony (A practice I fully support. It’s so nice to not have to worry about squeezing them in between wedding and reception). We had so much fun. The photographer was Simply Sara Photography. All the final photos haven’t been seen yet (obviously) but what I have seen are beautiful. And Sara was wonderful to work with. If I was getting married anytime soon I would be getting her to do my wedding. I would post the few photos I do have that she’s taken, but I try not to post pics with other people in them just in case people don’t want personal stuff like that shared here (My family doesn’t have a choice, however, and that’s why you’ll see theirs on here. Or Amy, because I know Amy doesn’t care).

And suddenly it was time for a wedding! We drove over to the church, and waited in the nursery for the ceremony to begin. An adorable moment for the day was Elizabeth pretending to eat the “food” that her future niece/flower girl brought to her as we waited. We had a moment of prayer, and then the walks up the isle began.

The ceremony itself was beautiful. I’ve used the word beautiful too much already in this blog post. I don’t know what else to do. The day was beautiful, the people were beautiful, Elizabeth was especially beautiful, the very idea of marriage is beautiful. I can’t escape the word. Also I’m a bit gushy today. I have a lot of happy memories to spill onto the page and they’re coming out in a rush and a ramble, and I’m afraid I don’t care.

We signed the marriage certificate to make it government official, and then the party began. Dinner was delicious, either roast beef or chicken with mashed potatoes and dinner rolls the size of an open hand. I don’t remember the name of the caterer, unfortunately, but they also handled the floral arraignments, which were also, you guessed it, beautiful.

I gave my speech at this point. I was a bit shaky at first, but thankfully high school speech class training kicked in to give me some confidence. I told some anecdotes about living with Elizabeth, especially a memory I have of where she took offence at incorrect medical practices in Dracula and how we had a long conversation about blood transfusions and the effect vampires would have on the spread of diseases. I worked hard on the speech, and I think it payed off. It was personal, and I hope fun. The best advice I got while writing it was from Kayla. I asked what my speech should focus on, and she suggested my relationship with Elizabeth and how it would translate with he relationship with Clark. It helped give me some direction and made sense in the whole personal stories and why I’m telling them. So, if you have a speech to write in the future, think of that. She also said that the best speech is the one with the most toasts in it, because more drinking is better, obviously. So there’s that to dwell on too.

We danced. We danced and danced. I danced swing with Christian and I made Dad dance a slow dance with me, I danced freestyle with the girls and then when we sent the married couple off into the night we all cleaned up and then went dancing out at Daisy Dukes to celebrate just a little more. The night ended at one when we finally all felt the tiredness of the day.

The next day I had to run up to the airport with Kayla to grab the newlywed’s car and the wedding dress. Elizabeth and Clark still had the happiest smiles on their faces. I’m so excited for this new chapter for them. It was kinda sad when she first got engaged, and I was thinking off all the changes that would make to our friendship, the biggest of which was that I lost a roommate and had to get a new place, obviously, but also all the fears of would we hang out as much? Would our friendship be the same? Changes are scary times. But it’s such a good thing. They’re so perfect for each other. And our friendship will be just fine, we’ll just need to find a new balance.

It was a perfect wedding, and I’m so glad I was blessed to be a part of it.

A special shout out goes to Kathy, who spent most of Sunday curled up in a pile of blankets on the floor, eating Chinese food and ice cream while marathoning Netflix. It was the recoup I needed after the exciting and sleep deprived weekend.


Longing – A Poem

My heart longs for these treasured things:

Places I cannot be,

Memories I cannot repeat,

People I cannot see,

All of these crafted a someone

The person who was me

There was an original ending where I struggled to get the rhythm right, but wasn’t sure how. Also I was never all that good with poetry, so I don’t know if this is even decent, but it’s what came to me.


Girls Night in Red Lodge!

In the numerous years that Elizabeth and I have been friends/roommates, we have talked about taking many trips, ranging from as extravagant as Italy to as fun as Vegas to as simple as Bozeman. We have taken none of those (yet). We have always been too busy or too practical with our money. But sitting on her couch the other night, we had had a sudden and random inspiration that an overnight trip to nearby Red Lodge would be a delightful little adventure. And somehow all our usual excuses didn’t deter us, and we found ourselves booking a room for Friday night.

We had our eyes on the Pollard hotel, as A. being pretty awesome historical and B. being situated right in the center of main street. We were sure due to those considerations it would be more expensive and we would actually find ourselves in the Comfort Inn or something, right? Wrong, it actually somehow ended up being one of the least expensive places to sleep for the night, so we got to stay there.

The Pollard Hotel

They have like, 3 separate parking lots each with only about 10 spots in them scattered around the building wherever they could fit them.







Red Lodge is one of the quaintest little towns. It’s a bit of a resort place, due to being so close to the ski mountain, and mountains in general. Stores ranging from rock shops to tea shops to Harley Davidson to Real Estate offices line the main road, and the restaurant selection goes from dive bar to farm-sourced fine dining. It’s an eclectic little mix that’s fun to explore.

I refer to it as Main Street, but I don’t think it was actually called that… Oh! I think it was Broadway?

Half the reason we wanted to stay in the Pollard is because we had already had good memories of the place. One night, at the Christmas Stroll, (I haven’t discussed the Christmas Stroll before, and it’s really deserving of it’s own post. Next year’s, perhaps. Leave it to say that it is AWESOME and has such the perfect holiday feeling to it) we were taking a break from wandering around and, free beers from some store in hand, we sat in the sitting room and chatted with a friend while we warmed ourselves from the chill outside. It was such a cozy, welcoming space, and we knew more time there would be delightful.

So on Friday I picked up Elizabeth and we made the short little road trip up there.


We were told every room is a bit different. Some don’t even have a view of outside, but instead look down upon one of the sitting rooms.


The room was a tidy, well organized space quite typical of hotels. The bed was super soft and comfortable. And the desk/dresser was a really beautiful looking antique. Everyone was very friendly. We did take a few moments to figure out how to actually unlock our hotel room door, but it worked in the end and we didn’t have any issues after that. It was just a matter then of setting our overnight bags down and finding somewhere for dinner. We were both feeling like we wanted something a little fancy (All dressed up and ready for a fun night on the town as we were), so we finally settled on Carbon County Steakhouse, a restaurant that’s got a classy, sort of gentleman’s club feel and a whole lot of good food.


Cheese plates have become somewhat a must-try thing in our circle of friends, and I am certainly not complaining.

We started off the night with a cheese plate and drinks (And warm, yummy, complimentary bread, as well). The cheese plate had some pickled peppers, dried fruit, crackers, olives, and (obviously) various cheeses. Elizabeth and I are neither huge fans of blue cheese, but the chunks that were on the plate we found ourselves gobbling up. It didn’t have quite the strong, sour kick at the end that I often associate with it. The other cheeses were what I would almost describe as a smoked pepper jack, and one with mustard seeds in it. All amazing and delicious. She had the Lemon Ginger Fizz cocktail, with citrus vodka, ginger beer, and rosemary. I had the Buswick martini, which had gin, pink peppercorns, ginger, sugar, basil, and lemon juice. Mine was a surprisingly savory and wonderfully fantastic drink. Hers was a little sweeter and reminiscent of mixing a Moscow Mule with a rosemary mojito (two of my favorite things!). Dinner was a wonderful beef stroganoff (Not pictured, because I was too busy lost in conversation to remember to snap pics). They also have THE BEST after dinner mints, like really fancy Andes Mints.

After dinner (About 8:30/9, by the time we got done) there wasn’t too much going on. The bars were certainly open and hoping, but we weren’t really in the mood for such things. What we really wanted, we decided, was tea. Now there was a very intriguing tea shop just across the street from the hotel, but alas, it was closed already. We decided to ask the front desk man if he could get some for us, and he found some wonderful mint tea that we took to the sitting room.


It feels very cozy, and like a den. A perfect place to sip tea for a few hours and relax



We texted an old friend, studied a book about spying which the hotel had for sale, and just generally chatted about life and work and all the changes that have been happening to our lives and how we were both trying to rise to the challenge. About this time we decided we needed another cup of tea, so we hassled the poor (and cute!) front desk guy to see if he could please get us another? He could indeed! And because we were feeling so crazy and wild this evening, we moved to the second sitting room to shake things up a bit.


This sitting room has some of the hotel rooms looking out onto it, and had a more open feeling.

This second sitting room in the back of the hotel had a much different feel than the other. This one has a large fireplace reaching up several floors (unfortunately unlit, but I can only imagine the beauty of it in winter!) The room was only half lit at this time of night, which gave us a nice semidarkness to continue  our conversation. It was probably about midnight by the time we finally decided we should call it a night. Up to our cozy room to realize we were VERY tired and to sleep deeply until my alarm told us we might want to actually get down to breakfast if we wanted to actually get breakfast.

Breakfast comes with the hotel room, and it was a little more than the classic Froot Loops and toast. It’s a sit down meal in the dining room. Eggs, toast, french toast, pancakes, your classic breakfast items are there for you. I personally went for the Eggs Benedict, because seriously, how often do you get the chance to eat that? Not enough, world, not enough. The hollandaise sauce was perfectly rich and tangy; the eggs wonderfully poached. And it was served with crispy Brabant potatoes (Oh so nicely seasoned with some warm spices and perfect to dip in that extra pool of hollandaise) Totally worth sneaking in there to get, even if you don’t stay overnight at the hotel.


That Hollandaise sauce…

We wandered around Red Lodge afterwords. Red Lodge is great for window shopping. Firstly, because of all the different shops. Secondly, because it is generally a very expensive town to go shopping in and I couldn’t justify most purchases there. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun things to be found. We did find some beautiful and high quality scarves to add to our wardrobes, and I snagged a pair of green earrings that I really loved for quite a good price. Another place to visit is the Candy Emporium, one of those places that has a thousand barrels of candy and you get charged by the ounce. Also, fantastic fudge. It holds a lot of nostalgic memory for me, as we always had to visit whenever we went to Red Lodge. Also, it’s just fun.


There are lots of cute clothing boutiques to wander through.


I love random coffee mugs. And I love owls. Unfortunately this set was 50 dollars, sooo… Not today







For lunch we had the idea to stop by a bakery, grab some pastries, and drive out to the creek somewhere to eat them out in the wilderness. We went to Mustang Bakery, which has a scrummy selection of homemade pastries (Scrummy, because I have been watching a lot of the Great British Bake Off recently and that is apparently a British phrase that is now a part of my vocabulary. Think scrumptious). I had a poppy seed ricotta cherry one which was as good as any pastry I’ve ever been pleasured to consume.  We also grabbed some coffee at the coffee shop (A cupcake latte, for me, which was good though I don’t know if I maybe added too many shots to really taste cupcake.)

We drove out to Joliet and parked beside Rock Creek, dangling our feet over the edge of the car and munching on the absolutely divine pastries. Unfortunately our adventure had to come to an end, and homeward bound we went.

Final thoughts on our adventure:

  1. How the heck did it take us so long to actually enact a getaway? It will not be our last.
  2. Red Lodge isn’t that far. You don’t have to go far to have a get-away.
  3. The trip was really not that expensive, all things considered. Less than $200 for a fancy dinner with drinks and appetizers, a night in a historical hotel, spending money on books and scarves and coffee and pastries. Not something to do often, perhaps, but not something that’s impossible to do a bit of budgeting for and make happen.
  4. I am blessed with an utterly amazing friend. We had so much fun, and essentially didn’t stop our stream of conversation from the moment we started to the moment we stopped. That’s not something that’s easy to achieve with someone, and yet we have. It was amazing time to really focus on our friendship and have some quality time together.

Rock Creek bubbling away